Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Crossover Cover: Pulp Detectives
Five of the stories in this collection of tales featuring classic pulp characters have crossovers. In "The Masked Detective's Deadly Trail," the Detective, impersonating a petty criminal, tells the doorman at an underworld dive in Hell’s Kitchen that Blinky McQuade sent him. Later, he tells Detective-Sergeant Gleason to contact Frank Havens, publisher of the Clarion. The Masked Detective, alias Rex Parker, reporter for the New York Daily Comet, was created by Norman Daniels, and appeared in his own self-titled pulp magazine beginning in Fall 1940. Blinky McQuade is the criminal persona the Spider uses to infiltrate the underworld. Frank Havens and the Clarion are from the pulp exploits of the Phantom Detective. In "Satan's Minions," Richard Curtis Van Loan (alias the Phantom Detective) points out Richard Wentworth and his fiancee Nita Van Sloan to his companions at a nightclub. Wentworth is better known as the Spider, of course. In "The Spider's Web," Secret Agent X battles a German agent who is preying on New York City with giant Sind spiders from India. The existence of the spiders became known to the world in 1933, when their discovery was recounted in a book by Robert Wallace. A Sind spider appeared in the Phantom Detective pulp novel The Jewels of Doom. "The Nazi Spider Staffel" is a sequel to the Secret Agent X story. John Masters, the allied pilot known as the Lone Eagle, rescues two French Resistance members from a prison camp with an unlucky number. The camp’s Kommandant is a tall, thin colonel with a monocle, whose underlings include his secretary Helga, who flirts with an American Air Force colonel, and an obese man named Sergeant Schulz. Masters encounters his old enemy R-47 and an elderly scientist called Herr Doktor K, who is experimenting with the Sind spiders’ venom, and believes that Masters is actually his old nemesis, “G-” The Doktor’s enemy has two aides, one of whom is a bull of a man, while the other is a tiny nippy kid. The Lone Eagle appeared in in his own self-titled pulp magazine beginning in September 1933; he was active during both World Wars. The prison camp (Stalag 13), its Kommandant (Colonel Wilhelm Klink), Helga, the American colonel (Robert E. Hogan), and Sergeant Schulz are from the television series Hogan’s Heroes. Herr Doktor K is G-8’s nemesis Herr Doktor Krueger. Krueger must have survived the explosion of his cave headquarters in the graphic novel Airboy/G-8. In that story, Krueger was confined to an iron lung, whereas here he is merely wheelchair bound. Krueger must have made a partial recovery in the two years between the two stories. G-8’s aides are Bull Martin and Nippy Weston. Since Secret Agent X, the Phantom Detective, and G-8 are in the CU, this crossover brings in the Lone Eagle and Colonel Hogan. The fifth and final story with crossovers is "Guns of Vengeance." Tony Quinn (aka the Black Bat) and his girlfriend Carol Baldwin see a light coming from the Clarion Building. He resolves to ask the owner, Frank Havens, about it. Later, Commissioner Warner, Captain McGrath, and Inspector Thomas Gregg meet with Quinn, asking him to investigate the murder of a gangster. Soon afterwards, playboy Richard Curtis Van Loan and his girlfriend Muriel Havens (Frank’s daughter) visit Quinn, stating that they’re looking for a worthy charity to which to donate some money. Quinn recommends they contribute to a fund for the widow of a murdered policeman. Later, Quinn, as the Black Bat, finds the Phantom Detective snooping around his office. The two ultimately part on amicable terms. The encounters between the Black Bat and the Phantom Detective (aka Richard Curtis Van Loan), both in and out of costume, are near-identical to those shown in an earlier story by Johnson, “City of Phantoms” (Triple Detective #4, Altus Press, 2010.) However, the accounts of the Black Bat’s activities before and after their meetings in each tale are completely different. I have chosen to treat “Guns of Vengeance,” the more recent account, as the “correct” one for CU purposes. It is worth noting that “City of Phantoms” has a cameo by FBI Agents Dan Fowler and Larry Kendal from the pulp G-Men Detective. Although the two heroes say that this is the first time they’ve met, this is clear fictionalization, as they crossed paths in 1939 during the events of Erwin K. Roberts’ “The Sons of Thor,” and again in 1941, as seen in the graphic novel Return of the Originals: Battle for L.A.